The popularity of Myanmar as a tourism destination has seen a four-fold increase in the number of bookings with local travel operators and hotels.
Due to the difficulty in obtaining visas and the relatively closed nature of Burmese border control, Myanmar was viewed by many travellers as about as far from the tourist trail as one could get. However, the country has opened up in recent times, with Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) has cleared much of the bureaucracy involved in obtaining travel documents.
Since the NLD’s stepped into office, the number of visas issued has risen by 30% to almost 3 million, providing travellers with an easier path to witness this amazing country.
However, the news is not all good for the Southeast Asian nation’s tourism industry, with many tour operators claiming the market is now overwhelmed with visitor interest in Burma.
Ultimate Travel Company spokesperson, Gloria Ward, said that it only used to be small part of the tour company’s operations in Asia. Ultimate has been forced to hire a dedicated staff member who deals with nothing else other than enquiries relating to travel to Myanmar.
Plans have already been developed to cope with the increased tourism, with the government introducing a number of new policies to ensure that foreign businesses and hotels are able to enter the market without the red tape that existed previously.
Consultant to the Burmese government’s tourism board, Kyi Kyi Aye, said that there was a great need for more hotel rooms.
“We need big chain hotels. Tourism is booming and that means we have many challenges to overcome,” she said.
During 2011, Myanmar recorded a total of 300,000 visitors from abroad, still significantly overshadowed by its eastern neighbour, Thailand, which managed to attract 19 million tourists.